BasketballFootball

The Investment

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Right now, the University of Texas is funding, staffing, and resourcing its revenue sports in a coherent, considered, and rational way. It’s long overdue. It’s an attempt to shape and define the market rather than just react to it. An attitude we’ll be very pleased to have cultivated when conference realignment comes along.

Look at the resources that have been made available to football and basketball, despite the cash crunch of COVID-19 and donors irritated with a decade of wasted money on non-performers.

By pursuing this strategy, Texas has the best chance to maximize profits and then strengthen the entire sports portfolio.

To put it bluntly, Texas can cut checks for excellence in the non-revenue sports, where money whipping the best available proven coach is already proving out. See women’s basketball, softball. That can only happen and be sustained with thriving men’s football and basketball. If baseball can get itself to revenue neutral (or even make a slight profit), all the better.

The reciprocal effect is that the overall Longhorn brand is bolstered and we can get back to seeing covers like this again.

And I’ll start seeing random teenagers in Newark and Los Angeles sporting Texas gear again.

Texas may not get the full impact of a Flutie Effect as it’s not exactly a secret, but every generation begins its knowledge of the college landscape anew. TJ Ford and Vince Young are vague concepts for today’s 16 year olds. Beyond national perception and its effects on student applicants and national viewership, any academic will tell you that fundraising for their projects is a hell of a lot easier when the front porch of the University is the envy of the neighborhood.

While Texas will have to eat Tom Herman’s buyout (or some of it – we’ll see) due to an inopportune extension, they were able to show Shaka Smart that there are still schools who think he can coach. Why return and dispel that notion? Fear likely did the work of reason there, but be glad for it.

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So what is the investment? Shaka and Tom were paid a lot. So was Charlie. Does it matter that we also paid SarkBeard handsomely?

More than the head coach’s salary, which grabs the headlines, Texas is investing in total infrastructure. Both personnel and material. Facilities, support staff, developmental staff, analysts, and assistants. Typically, Texas has done a good job of supporting one arm, while neglecting the other. Our right arm looks like prime Arnold, the other is a withered T-Rex. When facilities are being upgraded, staff is neglected. When staff gets a rise, facilities degrade.

What can Texas achieve when both align? We’re about to find out.

Stadium expansion, new locker rooms, weight room, a bubble revamp. A new basketball arena. The basketball practice facility is already outstanding. And then there’s personnel….

While Texas has not been shy in paying a star coordinator (Will Muschamp, Todd Orlando LOL), a broad commitment to support staff has not been there. Some of that is a function of the broader Athletic Department or administration being incapable of differentiating revenue producing investments from nonsense, but a good deal of that has to do with head coaches not getting it and pushing for reasons of ignorance, ego, or a lack of vision and understanding of process. Each of these descriptives apply in part to Charlie Strong, Tom Herman, and Shaka Smart. Some of those coaches feared strong staff voices that might compete with them and thus threatened their ego, some were simply clueless, and others struggled to lead or set vision altogether.

Under Steve Sarkisian, we have a TE coach making $1 million per year. Now that investment comes with subtle benefits, like Pole Assassins, charismatic monkeys, a potential for excellent special teams, and elite rainmaking recruiting, but that salary at that position would have been an impossible sell just two years ago, much less ten. Recent prior Longhorn tight end coaches? Bruce Chambers, Derek Warehime, Corby Meekins. Need I go on? We haven’t had a dude there since Tim Brewster. And our current dude spends all of his free time in Vegas with a diapered monkey. That’s the kind of value add I’m looking for. Want Pete Kwiatkowski? OK. Done. What else? Analysts? Let’s wait for college and NFL firing season to finish and we’ll build out the roster. More recruiting support staff? Done.

Chris Beard is building out a staff of outstanding bench coaches and recruiters, but cleverly supplementing them with pure developmental coaches who will do nothing but work with players on their games and scout out international prospects. Acquire talent, develop talent individually, teach talent the team game. This is the NBA model and it’s how they’re able to transform unskilled collegians into passable basketball players. What if we start that process at age 18? Maybe we can play tough and skilled basketball.

With all of these resources coming online, a coaching catalyst is still required.

It’s also incumbent upon the coaches and AD to enforce a vitality curve on their owns staff and with players. I don’t see complacency as a Beard problem and and I doubt it for Sark. Comfort breeds complacency and weakness. So it’s important that these resources be performance-centered – not “you’re a special snowflake” privileges. Our love comes with a price.

Read Gerry’s post. These are strategic hires and Beard is building a blend of old salts who can teach the game and scout its international nooks and crannies (Donewald) with young risers we’ll saddle for two to three years and replace with comparable juice (Maligi). Chris Ogden – a head coach in his own right – can run an entire practice or phase of the team. And there’s more on the way.

So what if these investments don’t pan?

No bet is sure. Not Sark. Not Beard.

Well, now it’s in the budget. That’s an important step in any bureaucracy. And unless you’re one of the Texas fans receiving a dividend payout from your investment in Texas Sports Inc (you’re not as it does not exist) then you’d rather have money going to tangible things that benefit Texas athletics rather than Bellmont bloat and aimless capital projects. That revenue is getting zeroed out. This is about how we distribute it to best enable wins, titles, and crushing our enemies.

Crucially, no Texas revenue or non-revenue sports coach can say or even intimate they failed for lack of resources. Simply point to the budget for personnel and walk through the new facilities. Failure is not an us problem. It will be a you problem. Every prospective hire knows who didn’t carry their end of the bargain. Then you feed the next one into the machine and hope they can get to home starting from 3rd base.

Texas with momentum is a fearsome thing to behold. A boulder on greased ball bearings. Right now, we just need our revenue sports to shake off the inertia and let physics do the rest.

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